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Governors, Atiku, Wike test strength at PDP NEC meeting

As the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) holds its crucial National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting today, there is confusion and unease over what the…

As the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) holds its crucial National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting today, there is confusion and unease over what the outcome of the meeting will be and how it will shape the future of the party.

The uncertainty is not unconnected with the battle for the soul of the party by critical stakeholders who are working to take over the reins of the party and position themselves ahead of the 2027 general elections.

According to Section 31(1) of the party’s constitution, the NEC consists of over 100 members, including the party’s national chairman, who is also the chairman of the NEC; the president and vice president who are members of the party; the chairman and secretary of the board of trustees (BoT); all other members of the BoT who shall have no voting rights; the principal officers of the Senate who are members of the party; and two senators from each of the geopolitical zones who are members of the party.

Others include: principal officers of the House of Representatives that are members of the party; three members from the House of Representatives from each geopolitical zone who are members of the party; all state governors who are members of the party; the national working committee members; all state chairmen; six ex-officio members, at least two of whom shall be women, elected from each of the six geopolitical zones; and all former national chairmen, deputy national chairmen, national secretaries, chairmen, and secretaries of the board of trustees who are still members of the party.

Daily Trust reliably gathered that unlike before, where the battle for control of the party was between the camp of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Minister, Nyesom Wike, the game has now changed with governors elected on the platform of the party, especially those in their second terms, also said to have formed a block to take over the reins of the party.

The governors currently elected under the platform of the party are Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri (Adamawa), Umo Eno (Akwa Ibom), Bala Muhammed (Bauchi), Douye Diri (Bayelsa), Sheriff Oborevwori (Delta), and Godwin Obaseki (Edo).

Others are Peter Mbah (Enugu), Ademola Adeleke (Osun), Seyi Makinde (Oyo), Caleb Mutfwang (Plateau), Siminalayi Fubara (Rivers), Agbu Kefas (Taraba), and Dauda Lawal (Zamfara).

Among them, the governor of Bauchi, the chairman of the forum, and those of Adamawa, Bayelsa, Edo, and Oyo are in their second term, with the Edo State governor leaving office later this year.

A highly placed source at the party’s national headquarters told Daily Trust that a few of the governors, especially those in their second term, are now planning on how to take control ahead of 2027, while a few of them remain undecided.

The source said some of the governors were tired and frustrated with the division and the endless fight between the Atiku and Wike camps, and are working on an independent outcome, if possible, to redirect the party going forward.

But another source familiar with the inner workings of the party said the governors were not taking an altruistic position in the battle but plotting to position one of them as the candidate of the party for the 2027 general elections, thus handing over the structure of the party to either the former vice president or the FCT minister will not favour their permutations.

As it stands, the general agreement among many stakeholders is that Atiku will still contest the 2027 presidential elections, all things being equal, and putting his loyalists in critical positions within the NWC will go a long way to strengthening his hold within the party, at least until 2025, when the party is expected to have its convention.

Wike, on the other hand, despite not hiding his hobnobbing with the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), has insisted he remains a member of the PDP, and observers have noted that his control of the opposition party may be his greatest bargaining chip with the APC ahead of the 2027 election and that he would therefore do all he can to hold on to the current NWC of the party believed to be his loyalists.


Governors insist on constitution

Daily Trust gathered that even though many of the governors are working to present a candidate they feel will either do their bidding or have what it takes to reorganise the party, the inability of many of them to come together and present a common front is hampering their efforts.

A source said, “Yes, the governors want to have control of the party. Because, apart from the fact that they don’t want to be seen as supporting either Atiku or Wike, which many of them do and people know, they also feel that if anything happens, they will be the ones to lose out.”

Daily Trust learnt yesterday that the PDP Governors’ Forum is also divided over the position of the acting chairman, Umar Damagum, with some of them wanting him to stay on because of the forthcoming elections in Edo and Ondo states.

But after its closed-door meeting yesterday, the chairman of the forum and governor of Bauchi State, Bala Mohammed, said the issues in the party are being resolved, adding that “We are looking forward to doing everything within the constitutional provisions of the party. So, we are not here to discuss about a change of leadership.”

Mohammed, who dispelled speculations that there are contending forces, including the governors, in the party, said, “NEC will take decisions on issues, not the governors. I know the governors normally take the leadership position, but we have an acting person leading the party, and NEC will decide whether it is time to fill the vacancy, looking at the legal implications of doing that.”

Meanwhile, in the communiqué after the meeting read to journalists, the governors called on the NWC of the party to “Set in motion the machinery to conduct credible congresses in all the states where the tenures of party officers have expired.”

Among those present apart from the chairman of the forum were governors of Rivers, Adamawa, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, and Delta, as well as deputy governors of Edo and Enugu.


Wike’s camp rooting for Damagum

Daily Trust reliably gathered that the current NWC and some of the party members loyal to the FCT minister have been mobilising for the acting chairman, Damagum, to retain his seat.

A source within the party also hinted that the reason the Wike group is averse to a new national chairman is because whoever comes in will be saddled with the responsibility of reorganising the party, which will include the suspension of those who openly worked against the party in the last election.


…NWC passes vote of confidence on Damagum

About 24 hours before the NEC meeting, the NWC passed a vote of confidence on Damagum, confirming the position of observers as it relates to the plot to ensure Damagum is confirmed as substantive national chairman or at least continue in his role as acting national chairman of the party.

Debo Ologunagba, the National Publicity Secretary of the party, said in a statement that the decision of the NWC, which came at the end of the 584th meeting at the party’s national secretariat on Tuesday, was “In commendation of the efforts and commitment of the acting national chairman to stabilise and reposition the PDP as the main opposition party in Nigeria.”

Ologunagba also said the NWC also assured of its commitment to ensuring the continued stability, growth, and success of the party at all times.


Atiku camp prefers return of chairmanship to North Central

Daily Trust equally learnt that those loyal to Atiku are working to make sure that a new national chairman comes in as soon as possible to kick-start the reorganisation of the party ahead of the next elections.

It was gathered that the Atiku camp did not have faith in the present leadership of the party to be fair and equitable in dealing with party members across the board.

Also, Atiku and his camp are still reportedly insisting that those who sabotaged the party at the last election should be punished to serve as a deterrent to others in the future.


As zone insists on completing Ayu’s term

Similarly, the PDP North Central Caucus, after its meeting yesterday, unanimously resolved that the zone must produce the next national chairman of the party to complete the tenure of the former National Chairman, Senator Iyorchia Ayu.

The zone vowed that they would not allow plans by some interest groups in the party to sidestep the constitution and perpetuate Damagum, who is from the North East, in office.

Our correspondents reliably gathered from one of those who attended the meeting at the Grand Ibro Hotel in Wuse Zone 5, Abuja, hinted that the region is insisting on Section 47(6) of the PDP Constitution, which provides that “Where a vacancy occurs in any of the offices of the party, the Executive Committee at the appropriate level shall appoint another person from the area or zone where the officer originated from to serve out the tenure.”

The zone has already directed the party’s Zonal Vice Chairman (North Central), Theophilus Dakkas, to transmit its position to the NWC ahead of the NEC meeting today.

The source said the motion to that effect was moved by Senator Tunde Ogbeha and was widely supported without dissent.

The zone also restated their position that Damagum should revert to his position as the Deputy National Chairman (North) in the interest of the stability of the party.


Ayu withdraws appeals against PDP

The former party chairman, Ayu on Wednesday withdrew his appeal suit against the PDP and one Conrad Utaan, a development party stalwarts said has now cleared the road for a decision to be taken on the party’s chairmanship.

Our correspondent reports that the Notice of Withdrawal of Appeal was contained in Appeal No: CA/MK/88/2024 before the Court of Appeal in Makurdi, dated April 15, 2024.

“Take notice that the appellant, in pursuant herein, intends and doth hereby wholly withdraws his appeal against all the respondents filed on the 27th day of June 2023 vide notice of appeal dated the 26th day of June 2023,” the documents read.

It was also learnt that some of the stakeholders in the North Central are now rooting for the former governor of Benue State, Gabriel Suswam, as Ayu’s replacement.

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